Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Rare baby monk seal reunited with mother

A rare baby monk seal spotted alone in Paphos harbour last week was recently seen swimming alongside its mother, the fisheries department said in a statement.

“The adventure of the baby Mediterranean monk seal ended well,” the statement said.

The lone seal – estimated to be around eight weeks old – had prompted concerns as experts said that at such a young age it should have been with its mother in the place where it was born.

Instead, it was located several kilometres away, probably due to the currents in the area.

The pup was at risk of dying because even though it could swim it still needed to feed from its mother.

“If the animal cannot find its mother, then it will be starving, while bacteria will develop because of a shortage of breast milk,” the fisheries department had said last week.

But mother and baby were able to find each other, as they were recently seen swimming side by side by staff of the forestry department, the statement said

The fisheries department thanked the public for its response to its request for information on sightings of the baby seal in the sea or on a beach where it may have gone to rest.

The Mediterranean monk seal, or Monachus monachus, is the rarest of the 33 species of seals and is considered the number one endangered marine mammal in Europe.

There are only about 600 of the animals in the Mediterranean. Half of them live in the marine areas of Greece, while in Cyprus there are estimated to be just seven to 10.

Fishermen in Cyprus do not disturb monk seals, but feed them in ports, according to the fisheries department which has carried out surveys in the past and started a monitoring programme in 2011.

Monk seals have been a protected species since 1971 in Cyprus.

The fisheries department urges people to continue informing them if they spot seals as it is always on the lookout for new sightings of the mammals, each of which is recorded in a database.

To report a seal sighting please call 22-807841 or send an email to [email protected]

 

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